Side Effects of Ben Bronstein

Wether you are a board game designer or artist – twitter is the place to be it seems. This summer I startet to follow Pillbox Games Instagram profile – and BAM. The way they use that social channel is incredible using small video loops in half of the posts and generally having a nice light in the images and lots of friendly, happy looking people make their posts stand out from the stream of content I browse through. So it is needless to say that in these post you find pretty pictures of the art being created for their upcoming game Side Effects and the style of those card illustrations just continue to grow on you. Looking up the artist behind the very elaborate graphical illustrations you find Ben Bronstein from Brooklyn. His personal instagram is  also a gem in creative content – spicing up his beautiful sketches with homebaked bread. I am thrilled to take us behind the creation of Side Effects. Welcome Ben.


Tell us a little about your artistic background and how you got into making art for Side Effects?

As I’m sure you’ll hear from lots of artist-types, I’ve always loved drawing as long as I can remember. But as far as training goes I went to RISD (rhode island school of design) for illustration and also I integrate some technical skills from day jobs as a production artist and retoucher in advertising.



Have you worked on other games before?

Nope, first game!


Wow – tell us little about what the game is?


Side Effects is a casual card game based on actual pharmaceuticals where you try to cure yourself of diseases as well as inflict them on your friends (and/or enemies 😉 ).  I did the design as well as the illustrations for this game, which was a bit of a learning process for me.

It looks very coherent with beautifully balanced art. Can you tell us about your creative process when making a card for Side Effects?


The process has been very collaborative. Unlike most one-off illustrations I do, it involves a lot of iterations and tweaking based on feedback and troubleshooting from my partners at pillbox games. Generally the sketching process for something more designed happens more digitally than a traditional illustration where I’m more reliant on pencils and my sketchbook.



Evolution of cards for Side Effects


What are your preferred tools (software/hardware/traditional) – tell us about your workplace?


For traditional tools I mostly use watercolor paper sketchbooks, drafting pencils and I’m a big fan of pilot gold nib fountain pens, radiographs and noodler’s inks.

Hardware I use a retina 27” iMac, wacom intros and increasingly my iPad pro with the apple pencil.

On my iMac 95% of my work is in photoshop. On the iPad I use autodesk sketchbook, procreate and astropad.



I see you are listening to 99 Invisible – great podcast. You artworks has a vintage look and you often use a kind of etching in your inking. Is there a reason you like that style of work.


Yep! Just a big fan of printmaking so I often use that approach. Did some focus studies on Dürer and Rembrandt school of printmaking back in college.



How do you color your art?


Side Effects and 95% of other professional clients I color digitally. I always recommend the Coolorus plugin for photoshop to artists. Sometimes I’ll do studies or sketches in which case I use watercolors, concentrated liquid watercolors or fountain pen inks.



What is important when working with that style?


For side effects it was very important to establish a hero card and then make sure every design was consistent with that one.


it was very important to establish a hero card and then make sure every design was consistent with that one.


What does in your opinion make a strong or good game art?


I think just being thoughtful, consistent and original.


What’s the best piece of advice on making art you yourself have been given?


To always keep a sketchbook and not to worry too much about making a style. Your style should always be changing and natural as you grow as an artist / depending on the materials you work with.

Ben’s Sketchbook


Name up to 3 artists/designers you admire?

Sorry I can’t do just 3

Adrian Tomine, Walton Ford, R. Crumb, Jillian Tamaki, Christoph Niemann


Is there one game you think is particularly beautiful (you did not make)?


Some recent games that I thought were great; Tortuga, Secret Hitler, Skull


What is your dream project?


I’m not really one for dream projects. Every project is fun for its own challenges and process. The most important thing for me is having some nice variety.


Finally – is there any place for inspiration, creative tutorials, personal shop links or other resources you want to advocate?


My personal illustration page is

for sketches (and bread I bake) my instagram is @benbron

Side Effects is at sign up for our mailing list to be notified when the game is available!

As far as inspiration goes, I just say be interested in everything! Not just art, but things like science, history, culture in general. Be omnivorous. My partner and founder of the game Jade came up with the idea for Side Effects after reading about pharmaceuticals, the rest of the game followed suit.


What a wonderful story. We look forward to see the final game. I am sure you will fund. And we will also look forward to see more games in the future from you guys.


Amazon game links.


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